Parents' Experience and Meaning Construction of the Loss of a Child in a National Terror Attack

Chaya Possick, Ruth Ann Sadeh, Michal Shamai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper describes a qualitative study aimed at exploring the meanings that are given by parents to the loss of their children in terror attacks in Israel and examining how specific aspects of these meanings help or hinder them in coping with the loss. This paper focuses the collective context of loss, a theme that emerged from in-depth interviews with 16 bereaved parents who lost their children in different terror attacks. The collective context of loss includes three subthemes: (a) the loss in the context of Jewish and Israeli history; (b) assigning responsibility for the loss; and (c) using the collective meaning in the process of coping. Overall, the findings highlight the role of the sociocultural context in the bereavement process. The discussion raises possible explanations for the significance of this role, focusing on the reciprocal processes between the bereaved parents and society, which are functional and effective for both.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-102
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Orthopsychiatry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2008


  • collective bereavement
  • national terror
  • national trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)


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